An AARP Fraud Watch Network report is alerting consumers of scams they could encounter over the holidays. Of those surveyed, 75 percent reported they have been targeted or experienced at least one form of fraud that can be tied to the holidays.
“Scammers are out in force during the holidays to try to steal money or sensitive information from consumers,” said Kathy Stokes, AARP director of fraud prevention programs. “Online shopping, shipping gifts and even charitable donations can become tools for scammers to use in their schemes. Knowing the warning signs is the first step you can take to spot and avoid scams.”
Three quarters of adults surveyed said they plan on shopping online for the holidays, but consumers need to know the red flags before logging in. Over a third of adults reported they experienced fraud when buying a product through an online advertisement. Some online advertisements can download malicious software onto devices or lead the shopper to a cloned site of a legitimate store.
Officials said scams can also occur when shoppers search online for customer service contact information. Nearly half of adults surveyed believe the customer support number found at the top of an online search can be trusted. Online ads that appear to be a legitimate company’s customer service information can be a scammer’s attempt to get consumers to call them instead.
Use a billing statement or other information obtained directly from the company to find legitimate numbers, officials advised. Also, a retailer will never ask for your log-in information when providing customer support.